Arizona cop threatens to shoot immigrant during traffic stop

Teodulo Sanchez said he was driving home from work earlier this month when an Arizona police officer threatened to shoot him if he moved during…

Teodulo Sanchez, joined by immigrant rights advocates, stood in front of the Buckeye Police Department on Thursday and recounted how a police officer threatened to shoot him during a traffic stop earlier this month. (Courtesy photo)

Teodulo Sanchez said he was driving home from work earlier this month when an Arizona police officer threatened to shoot him if he moved during a traffic stop.

Sanchez, who has a work permit and a valid Arizona driver’s license, recorded a video of the incident that shows a Buckeye police officer threatening to shoot him on multiple occasions. Undocumented activist Erika Andiola uploaded a minute-long version of the video on YouTube.

The full version of the video shows Sanchez began recording minutes before the officer approached his car. The video shows the officer asked Sanchez if he had any weapons in the vehicle. He also ordered him to put his hands on the steering wheel and to provide his driver’s license.

“If you do something, I’ll kill you here. You understand?” the unnamed officer said in the video.

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Sanchez then told the officer he was recording and that he didn’t have any weapons in his car, only the tools he uses to work as a plumber at a nearby military base.

The police officer then threatened Sanchez again, this time in Spanish, saying: “Don’t get out. Stay there. If you move, I will shoot you right here. Do you understand me?”

The video showing the interaction outraged immigrant rights advocates. They condemned the officer for what they referred to as “abusive” and “unacceptable” behavior.

On Thursday, they joined Sanchez outside the Buckeye Police Department to call for the name of the officer to be released and for the immediate firing of the officer. They also called for criminal charges pressed against the officer and an investigation into the incident.

“It is unacceptable that our community has to put up with such violent behavior from our own law enforcement, those who are supposed to ‘serve and protect’ the entire community,” Andiola said, adding that the Buckeye Police Department “needs to be accountable and ensure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

The Buckeye Police Department acknowledged in a statement that the officer “used a poor choice of words” and that the department “does not condone the statement made during the stop.”

Buckeye police also said in the statement that it received information from another law enforcement agency about a gold-colored Honda vehicle that was allegedly carrying a large amount of illegal narcotics and that the driver was possible armed.

The gold-colored vehicle was allegedly being closely followed by a pickup truck, which another officers stopped and found the driver armed with a weapon.

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According to Buckeye police, Sanchez was stopped because his gold-colored Honda fit the description of the vehicle police officers were looking for. Police also said Sanchez “did not comply” with the officer’s request to lower the car windows and turn off the ignition.

“Mr. Sanchez continued making furtive movements in the vehicle before the officer approached the passenger side window,” the statement reads. “With the information that the driver may be armed, and the fact that he was not obeying the officer’s commands, this heightened the officer’s concern for safety.”

Buckeye police added that the officer never pointed his weapon at the driver. Sanchez was eventually allowed to leave after police searched his vehicle and didn’t find illegal narcotics or weapons.

Now, the Buckeye Police Department is gearing up to implement a program that will equip police officers with a digital recorder or body camera “so that a full depiction of events like this will be available for review.”